First woman to lead Ohio; Hollister to be governor for brief period in January

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — Ohio’s next governor will be a woman.

No, Bob Taft isn’t hiding something. But a quirk in inauguration scheduling means that Lt. Gov. Nancy Hollister will spend about a week in early January as the state’s chief executive.

Here’s the situation: Governor Voinovich, newly elected to the U.S. Senate, will start that job at noon on Jan. 3, when the Senate session begins. But his term as governor doesn’t end – and Mr. Taft’s doesn’t begin – until Jan. 11.

Ohio state law prevents a governor from holding any other office, so Mr. Voinovich will have to resign his current position.

And, under state law, that means that Lt. Governor Hollister will become Governor Hollister, if only for seven days. She will be the 66th person – and first woman – to hold the office.

Ms. Hollister is disappointed that she gets the chance to be governor, though. On Tuesday, she lost her race for the U.S. House of Representatives in southern Ohio’s Sixth District to incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland.

Had she won, she would have been sworn in at the same time Mr. Voinovich was and would have lost out on being governor.

Through a spokesman, Ms. Hollister, former mayor of Marietta, said she did not want to talk about her impending role as Ohio’s chief executive.

Had Ms. Hollister landed the House seat, Senate President Richard Finan (R., Cincinnati) would have been next in line for the governor’s mansion.

Or, more likely, Ms. Hollister would have resigned early, allowing Mr. Voinovich to appoint a lieutenant governor who would be interim chief executive.

Some political leaders had suggested that interim governor could have been outgoing senator and freshly minted American hero John Glenn.

Ms. Hollister’s promotion will not affect her state pension. But she will receive pay for that week at the governor’s rate, $115,762 a year, instead of the lieutenant governor’s $59,861.

There is a precedent for all this. In 1957, Gov. Frank Lausche was in a similar situation – leaving the governor’s mansion early to head for the U.S. Senate.

Back then, lieutenant governors were elected separately from governors, and the Democratic Mr. Lausche’s lieutenant governor was Medina Republican John W. Brown.

Mr. Brown certainly made the most of the 11 days he spent as governor. He moved into the governor’s mansion, replacing portraits of Democrats with Republicans.

He called a joint session of the General Assembly to deliver a State of the State address. Mr. Brown tried to get involved in a strike settlement, and sent a letter to Vice President Richard Nixon asking for a federal job after his abbreviated term was up.

Most controversially, he commuted the life sentences of five convicted murderers, all of whom eventually were paroled.

Two of the five were involved in the killing of a Cleveland police officer.

After his term as governor, Mr. Brown served in the Ohio House and Senate, and then 12 more years as lieutenant governor under James Rhodes and John Gilligan. He died in 1993.

Ohioans decide to keep doves on hunt list

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 12

COLUMBUS — Voters rejected the only statewide issue on the ballot yesterday, deciding to allow continued hunting of mourning doves in Ohio. Supporters blamed the loss on a barrage of TV advertising.

“Money speaks very loud, and when money wants to kill the gentlest of creatures, it can,” said Ritchie Laymon, spokesperson for Save The Doves.

With 93 per cent of precincts reporting, the no vote was 1,837,886 and the yes vote was 1,234,377, a 59.8-40.2 per cent split.

The dove battle was fought mostly on the airwaves. Issue 1 was, depending on who you believed, a simple humane gesture or the beginning of an extremist animal rights agenda aimed at stopping animal research and a host of other activities.

Issue opponents, led by the Ohioans for Wildlife Conservation, aired a series of television ads claiming that the issue was the start down a slippery slope that would lead to an end to life-saving medical research, a ban on hunting, and the end of raising farm animals for meat.

Many of the ads never even mentioned dove hunting specifically, painting the issue as a broad-based conflict with extremists. Some of those ads are currently being investigated by the Ohio Elections Commission.

In contrast, issue supporters such as Save The Doves repeatedly said that the issue was simply about protecting doves, a songbird they said doesn’t produce enough meat to be useful and serves as target practice for hunters.

Boyle asks vote certification delay; This election linked to money-laundering allegations against Voinovich

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — Hours before losing her race for the U.S. Senate, Democrat Mary Boyle called on Secretary of State Bob Taft to delay certification of the election’s outcome pending a full investigation into allegations of money laundering by Governor Voinovich after the 1994 election.

In a letter to Mr. Taft, Boyle campaign manager Marc Dann yesterday asked the Republican secretary of state to start an immediate investigation into the allegations, filed last week with the Ohio Elections Commission but not made public until Monday, the day before the election.

“This is the most serious allegation ever made against a sitting governor,” Boyle spokesman Steve Fought said. “The voters have a right to know if this election needs to be invalidated.”

Among the possible punishment for misrepresenting a campaign expenditure – the misdemeanor offense the governor is accused of – is “forfeiture of office.” But it is unclear if that could extend to the federal position of U.S. senator.

John Bender, chief legal counsel for the secretary of state’s office, said that only the election commission has the authority to start an investigation, and that Mr. Taft could not hold up election certification.

“Bob Taft’s job is to ensure that the election runs smoothly and follows all elections laws,” he said. “This office has no jurisdiction over the complaint [against Mr. Voinovich].”

After casting his vote in Cleveland, Governor Voinovich reiterated that he would cooperate with the state investigation into the alleged campaign money laundering.

But he did not deny the charge against him: namely, that his 1994 re-election campaign funneled $60,000 through a fund-raiser to pay his brother, Paul Voinovich, and a lobbyist.

“I don’t know what’s in the complaint” filed by the election commission, the governor said. “I’m not going to respond to anything until I’ve read the complaint and seen what everybody has had to say. I want you all to know that I am going to fully cooperate with the elections commission.”

The complaint was generated by a federal corruption investigation under way in Cincinnati. That investigation, being conducted with assistance from FBI and IRS officials, was looking into potential tax law violations by Michael “Tony” Fabiano, a Worthington, O., lobbyist, when it uncovered evidence about the alleged money laundering.

Although the complaint was filed last Wednesday, it became public knowledge only Monday, when Democratic Party leaders learned about the documents and released them to the press. Mr. Voinovich said his attorney was out of the country and had not been able to read through the accusations.

The charges are set forth in a stack of documents produced by the federal investigation and filed with the election commission. They have spent much of 1998 being shuffled between federal, county, and state officials.

The allegations center around Ray Gallagher, a pipefitters union official from Cleveland who supported Mr. Voinovich’s candidacy for governor in 1990. According to documents filed with the complaint, the governor had appointed Mr. Gallagher to a spot on the Ohio Industrial Commission, but his name was withdrawn when it was discovered he had been convicted of felony theft in office while in a state government job in the 1970s.

Suddenly jobless, the documents show, Mr. Gallagher was hired by an old friend, lobbyist Michael “Tony” Fabiano. The plan was that Mr. Gallagher would spend most of his time helping out the Voinovich re-election campaign, but Mr. Fabiano could not afford to pay Mr. Gallagher a $60,000 salary while he worked for the campaign, according to the complaint.

So Mr. Fabiano asked The V Group – a set of companies controlled by Paul Voinovich – to reduce the amount Mr. Fabiano paid every month as a retainer to The V Group, and Paul Voinovich eventually agreed to let the monthly payment be reduced by $2,500 so that the money could go to help pay for Mr. Gallagher, according to the documents.

After a few months, though, Paul Voinovich, according to the grand jury testimony of several people, became angry at what Mr. Gallagher was costing him and demanded that his brother’s campaign reimburse him and Mr. Fabiano for what they had paid, which, by that point, was about $30,000 each.

According to a transcript of campaign treasurer Vincent Panichi’s grand jury testimony, Governor Voinovich and Mr. Panichi met and decided that the campaign would make the reimbursement.

But, the documents show, writing a check directly to The V Group would have almost certainly caused public scrutiny from the press. So the governor allegedly approved of a plan to use a middleman, Columbus fund-raiser Nick Mamais. On Dec. 5, 1994, the Voinovich campaign wrote Mr. Mamais a check for $60,000. Mr. Mamais allegedly kept $3,000 for himself, and wrote two checks for $28,500 each to two companies controlled by Mr. Fabiano. Mr. Fabiano then wrote a $28,500 check to The V Group.

In his grand jury testimony, included with the complaint, Mr. Panichi testified that the governor personally approved using Mr. Mamais as a middleman because, as Mr. Panichi said, “politically it doesn’t look good” to have the money going straight to The V Group.

According to an IRS agent’s memorandum filed with the complaint, it was important for Paul Voinovich that it be known that “the governor approved the reimbursement. Paul Voinovich stated that he needed to dirty his brother’s hands.”

The governor repeatedly has tried to distance himself from his brother, who has been investigated for involvement in several scandals in northeast Ohio.

In 1997, the governor said Paul Voinovich “has no role in state government” and added, “I have no role in any of his businesses. He has his own life to lead and so do I. And that’s it. Period.”

This is the first time that the governor has been implicated in a corruption investigation. Paul Mifsud, the governor’s former chief of staff and a former V Group executive, served six months in jail last year for concealing $100,000 in improvements to his home done by a state contractor.

Mr. Voinovich predicted that Ohioans will interpret the last-minute accusation as an attempt to derail his Senate campaign. “Most of them will see it as a last-minute type of effort to make reference to something that happened four years ago,” he said.

Mr. Voinovich is charged with misrepresenting the campaign expenditure, along with his brother, Mr. Fabiano, Mr. Panichi, and a company run by Mr. Mamais. That offense carries a maximum penalty of a $10,000 fine and removal from office.

In addition, Mr. Fabiano, The V Group, V Group Vice President Francis Fela, and two companies run by Mr. Fabiano are charged with illegal use of corporate funds in a political campaign. Conviction on that charge carries a maximum $1,000 fine and up to a year in state prison.

The election commission has scheduled a preliminary hearing on Dec. 10 to decide if a full hearing on the complaint is justified.

Blade staff writer Jeff Cohan contributed to this report.

Republicans repeat sweep of offices

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 9

COLUMBUS — Ohio Republicans, who swept to state power in a 1994 landslide, will stay there for another four years.

GOP candidates appeared to be holding on to all four down-ticket statewide offices yesterday. Two races, featuring Republican incumbents, were certifiable blowouts.

Leading the charge was Attorney General Betty Montgomery, who was trouncing Democrat Richard Cordray, 875,622 to 512,983 with 42 per cent of the precincts reporting.

Mr. Cordray, a former state solicitor expected to be a formidable opponent for Ms. Montgomery, could muster only 37 per cent of the vote to the Republican’s 63 per cent.

Not far behind was incumbent Auditor Jim Petro, who easily turned back Cincinnati businessman Louis Strike, 849,970 to 504,538 (62.8 per cent to 37.3 per cent).

Ms. Montgomery and Mr. Petro had been comfortably in front throughout the campaign.

In October, they were so far ahead they gave $110,000 in ununsed air time to the Ohio Republican Party for distribution to other, more threatened candidates.

Neither held a campaign press conference, using the standard front-runner strategy of laying low.

Their opponents struggled to get their messages out. Mr. Strike, a CPA, focused on his financial background but ran a low-profile race for this low-profile office. Mr. Cordray, in contrast, led an aggressive campagin, attacking Ms. Montgomery’s record daily.

Meanwhile, the Montgomery campaign was operating in such a low gear last week that it printed a humorous compilation of what staffers call lies Mr. Cordray has told throughout the campaign.

The campaign distributed it to reporters with almost no fanfare, almost as a lark.

The closest race was for treasurer, the post Republican Ken Blackwell is vacating.

Republican Joe Deters, the Hamilton County prosecutor, was leading Summit County Treasurer John Donofrio, 762,137 to 625,887, a 54.9 to 45.1 per cent spread.

Mr. Deters won despite a regular drumbeat of attacks by Mr. Donofrio, accusing the Republican of a lack of experience.

Mr. Deters is a likely candidate for higher statewide office, and Mr. Donofrio accused him of usin the treasurer’s office as a stepping stone.

Mr. Donofrio has been the Summit County treasurer for the last 19 years.

Mr. Deters ran on a platform of protecting Ohio’s money, in particular in the issuance of debt.

He promised to cut down on overhead in lending and to use variable rate bonds to increase returns.

The fourth down-ticket race was for what is arguably the state’s least powerful statewide elected position – secretary of state.

The secretary of state is the state’s top elections officer, and the position has traditionally been used by politicians aspiring to higher office.

That was perceived to be the case with Mr. Blackwell, the Republican who decided not to run again for treasurer. Mr. Blackwell was leading Democrat Charleta Tavares by 795,434 to 603,241 (56.9 per cent to 43.1 per cent).

Throughtout the race, Ms. Tavares focused on a few statements by Mr. Blackwell from 1997, when he was considering a run for governor and challenging Bob Taft in the Republican primary.

At the time, he claimed he was not interested in the office and was quoted in a Dayton newspaper as saying “the only thing worse than running for secretary of state would be being secretary of state.”

Mr. Blackwell and Ms. Tavares, a Columbus state representative, promised to deliver technological reform in the secretary of state’s office.

Mr. Blackwell promised to advocate for lobbyist reform to increase voter faith in the political system; Ms. Tavares focused her campaign on programs aimed at increasing voter turnout.

In all four races, Republicans were able to field candidates with higher name recognition – two incumbents running for re-election, Mr. Blackwell running for his second statewide post, and Mr. Deters, who has prosecuted several high profile cases in the last few years.

3 retain seats on Ohio Supreme Court

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus bureau

Page 9

COLUMBUS — For all the hubbub over the Ohio Supreme Coutr’s controversial school-funding decision last year, voters decided not to make any changes in the court yesterday.

All three incumbent justices easily won re-election, incluidng Chief Justice Thomas Moyer. With 93 per cent of precincts reporting, Mr. Moyer, a Republican, outpolled Democratic 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Court Judge Gary Tyack, 1,853,166 to 705,790 (72.4 per cent to 27.6 per cent).

Also victorious were incumbent justices Francis Sweeney and Paul Pfeifer. Mr. Sweeney and Paul Pfeifer. Mr. Sweeney, one of only two Democrats on the court, won a second term by beating 12th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Powell by a margin of 1,536,611 to 981,460 (61 per cent to 39 per cent).

Mr. Pfeifer, a Republican, won another term, scoring 1,811,114 votes and 71.8 per cent to Democrat Ron Suster’s 712,516 votes and 28.2 per cent.

Some observers expected this race to be a referendum on what may be most controversial decision the Ohio Supreme Court has made in recent decades: 1997’s DeRolph v. Ohio, in which the court declared the way Ohio funds its public schools unconstitutional and ordered the legislature to come up with a funding method that depends less on locally voted real estate taxes.

Many state leaders, particularly Republicans, criticized the court for acting as the General Assembly and considering something unconstitutional that may have been simply unwise.

Since the vote in DeRolph was 4-3, a one-person change in the court could have made a big difference when, early next year, the court considers DeRolph agian and rules on whether Ohio has done enough to reform its system.

Mr. Powell, Mr. Moyer, and Mr. Suster all campaigned heavily against judicial activism of the sort they say DeRolph symbolizes.

But voters evidently did not want to see much of a change. Mr. Moyer wrote the dissenting opinion and was re-elected too.

Mr. Pfeifer is generally considered the swing vote that clinched the 4-3 decision, and he won too.

Voinovich accused of violation; ’94 campaign cash allegedly used to pay supporter’s salary

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 4

COLUMBUS — Governor Voinovich has been accused of laundering $60,000 from his 1994 re-election campaign fund to pay a political supporter’s salary, according to documents disclosed yesterday.

Almost half of the money allegedly ended up in the hands of The V Group, a consulting firm run by the governor’s brother, Paul Voinovich, which is under federal investigation in a separate public corruption probe.

The allegations are detailed in two complaints referred to the Ohio Elections Commission by Secretary of State Bob Taft Wednesday.

The complaints, based on in formation turned over to Mr. Taft by the Franklin County prosecutor the previous day, were uncovered by a Democratic Party attorney yesterday. They accuse the Republican governor and four others of lying about where the $60,000 went.

The maximum penalty for the offense, misrepresentation of a campaign expenditure, is a $1,000 fine and forfeiture of office.

The governor, in a prepared statement, said that he will co operate with authorities “and provide full information in an appropriate and timely manner.” He said he was not aware of the specific nature of the charges, because his personal attorney is out of the country.

The election commission scheduled a preliminary hearing for Dec. 10 on the complaints to decide if a full hearing is justified.

Ohio voters will decide today whether to send Mr. Voinovich to the U.S. Senate. He is a heavy favorite over Democrat Mary Boyle.

The charges are detailed in a stack of documents stemming from an Internal Revenue Service investigation of The V Group. According to the documents, the governor used $60,000 in campaign funds to reimburse two companies for the salary of Ray Gallagher, a Cleveland pipefitter union leader and longtime Voinovich supporter.

According to the complaint, Mr. Gallagher needed a job after he was forced to withdraw his name for a post on the Ohio Industrial Commission to which the governor had nominated him. Mr. Gallagher could not serve because he had a felony conviction for theft in office in the 1970s, the complaint said.

Mr. Gallagher got a job with a lobbying firm run by Michael Fabiano of Worthington, O., and Mr. Voinovich’s brother, Paul, agreed to pay half of Mr. Gallagher’s salary, because of his previous support for the governor’s campaign, the complaint alleges.

After Mr. Gallagher did not perform well in the job and was let go, Paul Voinovich and Mr. Fabiano decided to seek reimbursement from the Voinovich re-election campaign for the $60,000 they had spent, according to the complaint. After negotiations, the complaint said, the governor personally approved paying the money, but he did not want to do it by writing a check to The V Group. The governor then approved of using a middleman – Voinovich fund-raiser Nick Mamais – to hide where the money was going, the documents say.

Mr. Mamais was to receive the $60,000 and keep $3,000 for himself and then was to split the remaining $57,000 between Paul Voinovich and Mr. Fabiano. According to campaign finance filings and copies of canceled checks included with the complaint, he did.

The Voinovich campaign listed the $60,000 expenditure on its campaign finance reports as “voter program development services.”

Although the charges were filed last week, they were made public only yesterday, when Don McTigue, an election-law specialist who works for Democratic clients, heard a rumor about the filing and asked for a copy of the file from the election commission. The election commission is a seven-member appointed state body that investigates complaints of election-law violations.

The IRS investigation was spawned by the federal corruption probe into The V Group. When federal officials saw evidence of a possible state election-law violation, they turned it over to the Franklin County prosecutor’s office.

But the prosecutor does not have jurisdiction under Ohio law to prosecute election violations. Last Tuesday, after a federal court order, the prosecutor turned the case over to the secretary of state’s office, which is in charge of enforcing election laws.

The next day, Secretary of State Bob Taft turned the matter over to the election commission.

Democratic Party Chairman David Leland was quick to criticize the quiet manner in which that was done, saying that it was only by chance that the Democrats were able to uncover the allegations the day before the election.

“If this was a Democratic governor, you can be sure there would have been a big press conference,” he said.

But Mr. Taft said the federal court order that turned information over to the secretary of state’s office did not allow him to turn over information to the news media.

Blade staff writers James Drew, Jeff Cohan, and Vanessa Gezari contributed to this report.

Governor’s race has company on ballot

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page PT4

COLUMBUS — While most of the attention has been on the race for governor, Ohioans will fill state government’s four other elected offices on Tuesday.

In the attorney general’s race, Republican Betty Montgomery is seeking re-election against Democrat Richard Cordray, the former state solicitor. Ms. Montgomery is running on her record of increasing funding for crime fighting and helping local law-enforcement agencies. Mr. Cordray says his opponent has a too-narrow view of the attorney general’s office, and he says he would act as an independent watchdog not beholden to other state officials.

The closest of the races may be for state treasurer, between Summit County Treasurer John Donofrio, a Democrat, and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, a Republican. Mr. Donofrio is running mainly on his experience as a county treasurer for 19 years and his history of innovative programs. Mr. Deters says he can do a better job of handling debt-related issues than his opponent and save money through better management.

The incumbent treasurer, Republican Ken Blackwell, is trying to make a lateral move and become secretary of state, Ohio’s top elections officer. His opponent is state Rep. Charleta Tavares (D., Columbus). She says she will increase voter-registration programs and encourage young people to get involved in the electoral process. To restore faith in politics, Mr. Blackwell has called for lobbyist reform and an end to some forms of political contributions.

State Auditor Jim Petro, a Republican, is seeking re-election against Democrat Louis Strike, a Cincinnati business consultant.

Mr. Petro says he has taken political favoritism and corruption out of the previously sullied office, and has increased the timeliness and effectiveness of audits. Mr. Strike, a certified public accountant, says the state needs a CPA and someone with experience turning around failing businesses as auditor, not a lawyer like Mr. Petro.

The races for auditor and secretary of state are particularly important this year. The winners in those races, along with the governor, will sit on the state Apportionment Board, which after the 2000 census will redraw the state’s political boundaries for General Assembly seats.

The party that wins two of those three statewide races will control the board and be able to draw the lines in ways to help their party throughout the next decade.

3 on Supreme Court face challengers

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page PT6

COLUMBUS — Three of the seven seats on the Ohio Supreme Court, including the position of chief justice, will be filled in Tuesday’s election.

Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, a Republican, faces 10th District Court of Appeals Judge Gary Tyack.

Mr. Tyack, a Democrat, has accused Mr. Moyer of being too cozy with big business and insurance companies, as well as encouraging feuding on the court, particularly with Justice Andy Douglas of Toledo.

Mr. Moyer defends his record as appropriately conservative, and said he avoids the judicial activism that has drawn some criticism of the court.

Justice Francis Sweeney, one of two Democrats on the court, is seeking re-election and arguing that he can best defend the rights of Ohioans. His opponent is 12th District Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Powell, who has stressed his conservative, pro-business judicial ideals in the race.

Also up for re-election is Justice Paul Pfeifer, a Republican who court observers considered a swing vote in the court’s controversial 1997 school-funding decision. Mr. Pfeifer faces opposition from Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court Judge Ronald Suster, a Democrat who is a former state repre sentative.

This year’s races take an added importance because of the landmark opinion in DeRolph vs. Ohio, in which the court declared the way Ohio funds its schools unconstitutional and ordered the state to reform it – at a potential cost of billions of dollars.

The vote was 4-3 to overturn the system, and a change of just one justice could seriously affect what the court will do in 1999, when the case reaches it again on appeal. The court will then determine if the state has done enough to fix the system.

Mr. Sweeney wrote the majority opinion in the original DeRolph case, and Mr. Pfeifer joined him in the majority. Mr. Moyer wrote the dissenting opinion.

Time fleeting for Glenn’s COSI questioners

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — Pity poor Lindsey McCulloch.

She’d been waiting for weeks for this moment. Lindsey, 12 and earthbound, would send her voice up to the stars, off satellites and transponders, and right into the ear of John Glenn.

She had been one of a half-dozen honor students from Delta Middle School chosen to ride a school bus to Columbus and ask Mr. Glenn a question during his triumphant shuttle ride.

She had long ago prepared her question: “Senator Glenn, how does it feel to be the oldest man in space?” Fourteen children, standing in a back room at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, had a total of 10 minutes to ask 14 questions. That was all the satellite time COSI could get.

Lindsey was scheduled to go 14th.

But John Glenn, never one to settle for a pithy response when a lengthy one will do, didn’t have a timetable in mind. No one was telling him to hurry up or keep his answers short in the interest of time, or in the interest of letting all the children get the thrill of sending a voice up to the stars.

So the world’s oldest astronaut kept talking, pushing the envelope on each question, as the clock ticked.

As soon as the senator finished answering question 13, something about his family, Lindsey walked up to the podium and leaned into the microphone. She looked down at her notecard and started reading:

“Senator – ”

“Discovery!” crackled the voice from the loudspeaker. It was Houston, command control. “This ends the allotted time for the Center of Science and Industry.”

It was over. Time ran out. The question remained unanswered. Lindsey was left standing there. A COSI staffer offered a big hug.

“I was disappointed,” Lindsey said.

Other than Lindsey’s unfortunate situation, though, everything seemed to work fine yesterday in Columbus, as hero-of-the-day John Glenn was peppered with questions via satellite audio hookup.

The students at COSI – six from Delta, eight from Columbus – were the first group of young people to get a chance to ask questions of Mr. Glenn and Commander Curt Brown.

After their 10 minutes were up, a group at the Newseum in Arlington, Va., got 10 minutes, along with a group from John Glenn High School in the senator’s hometown of New Concord, O.

The topics ranged from specific and scientific – questions about osteoporosis and inertia – to broad queries like “Do you feel younger in space?”

Mr. Glenn’s response to that question, posed by Delta Middle School’s Matt Lewis: “I guess I feel younger all the time. That’s why I wanted to come up here.”

Brock Burkholder, a seventh grader at Delta Middle, was satisfied with the answer to his question: How has technology changed since Mr. Glenn’s first flight in 1962? (Answer: an awful lot.)

“I was nervous,” Brock admitted.

Among the other things the students learned: No, your face doesn’t really flatten out and get distorted during takeoff.

Yes, John Glenn is “looking forward to being back” on Earth already. And they don’t know if a wound heals faster in space.

“I just hope that we’ve planted some seeds in the stomachs of some of these kids that there are these great human adventures going on, and that they can be a part of them,” said Kathryn Sullivan, COSI’s president and a former NASA astronaut.

Ms. Sullivan said she was happy the children were able to get through 13 questions but said that “John is jazzed up there, and it’s very easy to be exuberant” when answering a question.

The event had a guest of honor: Lorraine Smith-Richardson, 87 (“and a half”), who taught Mr. Glenn in fifth grade and again in high school.

“I’m so thrilled,” she said. “But I taught him speech class in high school, so maybe I’m to blame for his going on.”